I knew a woman who only had sex when she had been drinking.
This held true regardless of whether she was married or not, in a “serious” relationship or not. When she had a drink or two, she was very interested in sex. Otherwise… not at all.
I knew a man who let himself get into relationships where he, by his own admission, wasn’t really interested.
This held true regardless of how long it had been between relationships. If he found someone who was interested in him, he’d pursue the relationship. It got him into at least one marriage where he didn’t really want to, but shrugged and went along with it.
I knew a woman who critized her partners whenever things were going well.
This held true regardless of whether or not things were going well in whatever relationship she was in. The more interested she was, the more emotionally invested she was, the more she’d talk about her partner’s faults – both to them and to others.
I knew a man who made everything around him worse.
This held true regardless of whether or not the people around him were treating him well, or the stability of the situation. He’d had so many bad experiences as a child that when things were going well, it felt wrong.
All of these people I’ve known1 strongly argued that there was nothing wrong with them. That the problems and things happening to them were caused by outside events, other people.
They’re wrong. It’s clear to see from the outside, as so many things are.2
She was afraid of being seen as having a sex drive – and the negative labels our society puts on women who enjoy sex.
He was afraid of being alone (or afraid that he wasn’t good enough for anyone) – and so latched on to anyone who seemed like they would accept him.
She was afraid of commitment and disappointment – and so ended up creating situations and dynamics to keep herself at a safe distance.
He was afraid of feeling abandoned and hurt – and so lashed out pre-emptively.
We all have something – or many somethings – like this in ourselves. While it’s easier to see in others, it’s often hard as hell to see in ourself. But without doing so, we run the risk of making our lives worse… or even creating exactly that which we fear.
Figuring out that fear – identifying it and acknowledging it – is the first step to finding out what’s driving our behaviors and making ourselves better people.
Take some time to look at something that’s been a problem in your life.
What are you afraid of with it? Afraid of about yourself, about what others might think, about what might happen?
Then think: What behaviors are being driven by that fear?
Once you start to get a hold on that, you can actually start to change the behaviors that you need to change in order to make your life better.
1 Please remember my artistic license policy. I’ve changed details in these accounts, so if you think I’m thinking about you, that says more about you than me.
2 Of course this is oversimplified. I think this is key to figuring out the complicated stuff, as I point out later.